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South Carolina’s first College Advising Corps established at Furman

Furman President Elizabeth Davis addressed the crowd at USC-Lancaster during Monday's announcement.

Thanks to a total of $2.2 million in funding from public and private partners, it was announced today that the first College Advising Corps (CAC) in South Carolina will be established at Furman University.

The new program, which launches in August 2017, will place full-time college advisers in all seven high schools in Lancaster and Chester counties in South Carolina to help students navigate the often complex college search and application process.

The anchor funding for the project is provided by The Duke Endowment of Charlotte, N.C., and the J. Marion Sims Foundation of Lancaster. The announcement took place at USC-Lancaster.

Furman students have a long history of serving as mentors in the classroom. Recent graduates will receive priority in the hiring process for the CAC advisers.

“Furman is honored to have a role in creating the first College Advising Corps in South Carolina, and to help guide underserved students on a path toward higher education,” said university President Elizabeth Davis. “This initiative aligns perfectly with The Furman Advantage, our strategic vision and promise to prepare Furman students to graduate and lead successful lives, including connecting with and serving in communities around the state and beyond. We are thankful to The Duke Endowment and J. Sims Foundation for their support and partnership in the Furman College Advising Corps, and we look forward to making a difference in the lives of the students who might not otherwise consider college.”

According to Gary Clark, director of the Furman CAC, the program will hire recent Furman graduates and other qualified applicants to serve as the college advisers. The university plans to place one college adviser in each of the seven high schools, beginning with the 2017-18 school year.  As recent college graduates, the advisers will be close in age to the students they mentor and are expected to live near the service area so they can be involved in the local community.

“We are bringing CAC to our region in direct response to a need expressed by our youth,” said Susan DeVenny, President & CEO of the J. Marion Sims Foundation.  “The college search, application, and financial aid processes can be overwhelming to students and families. CAC brings evidence-based support to our students at a time when they are making key decisions about their postsecondary futures.”

The Furman program will help underrepresented high school students in Lancaster and Chester counties navigate the complex process of applying to college.

Furman will join 25 other institutions of higher education across the country who partner with CAC, headquartered in Chapel Hill, N.C. CAC works to increase the number of low-income, first-generation college and underrepresented students who enter and complete higher education.  The initial commitment for the Furman program is five years.

“At The Duke Endowment, a major focus of our work is making sure students have access to quality colleges and universities,” said Minor Shaw, chair of the Endowment’s Board of Trustees. “The College Advising Corps is one of the best, most practical tools we’ve seen for putting disadvantaged students on the path to higher education. That’s why we are proud to join the J. Marion Sims Foundation in supporting this exciting initiative.”

The appointments are for one year, with an option for a second year.  The Furman college advisers will receive a yearly stipend of $24,930, plus benefits, as well as an education stipend of $5,815 that can be used to repay college loans or for graduate school tuition. As part of the agreement, Clark said, advisers will supplement existing staff at the schools and not serve as replacements for counseling positions.

“We are honored and excited to be partnering with Furman University, the J. Marion Sims Foundation and The Duke Endowment in this game-changing investment to increase opportunity for thousands of South Carolina youth,” said Dr. Nicole Hurd, Founder and CEO of College Advising Corps.  “We look forward to working together and empowering students to achieve their promise through education.”

College Advising Corps works to increase the number of low-income, first-generation college and underrepresented students who enter and complete higher education. To do this, we partner with 25 colleges and universities in 15 states to place recent graduates as college advisers in over 600 underserved high schools. Advisers work full-time to help students plan their college searches, complete admissions and financial aid applications, and enroll at schools that will serve them well. Since its inception in 2005, CAC has served more than one million students across the country. In 2016-2017, 598 advisers are supporting more than 180,000 students nationwide. This includes 24 ”eAdvisers,” who utilize technology to reach 6,000 high-achieving, low- and moderate-income students in schools where CAC does not currently place an adviser.

Based in Charlotte and established in 1924 by industrialist and philanthropist James B. Duke, The Duke Endowment is a private foundation that strengthens communities in North Carolina and South Carolina by nurturing children, promoting health, educating minds and enriching spirits. Since its founding, it has distributed more than $3.4 billion in grants. The Endowment shares a name with Duke University and Duke Energy, but all are separate organizations.

Furman University is a private, undergraduate liberal arts and sciences university of 2,800 students in Greenville, S.C. The university is noted for its rigorous academic program and strong faculty, and its 750-acre campus is widely recognized as one of the most beautiful in the nation. The university recently unveiled The Furman Advantage, a strategic vision that combines learning with immersive experiences outside the classroom, creating a personalized pathway that prepares students for lives of purpose, successful careers and community benefit.

J. Marion Sims Foundation is entering its third decade of service to the community, with a focus on transforming the health and wellness of Lancaster County, Fort Lawn, and Great Falls, SC. Created by the sale of the Elliot White Springs Hospital in 1995, the Foundation provides partnership, programming, and grants to support community transformation. The board’s new strategic direction includes a focus on building a healthy community, supporting youth transition to adulthood, and elevating philanthropy.

What Others Are Saying

Gene Moore, Superintendent, Lancaster County School District: “Our students will really benefit from mentors helping them as they look for money for college, apply to college and prepare to begin their college experience.  We’re so excited to be a part of this public/private partnership, and we want to thank J. Marion Sims, The Duke Endowment, Furman University, and the College Advising Corp for making this possible.”

Angela Bain, Superintendent, Chester County School District: “Chester and Lancaster will be the pilot for the entire state, so I hope you will see, as I do, that this can eventually be a great opportunity for the students across our state.  We are excited and grateful for the partnership with the J. Marion Sims Foundation, The Duke Endowment and Furman University, and look forward to helping more students attend college.”

Walter Collins, Dean, USC Lancaster: “USC Lancaster values opportunities to collaborate with partners to fulfill the mission of the campus ‘to provide higher education and intellectual leadership to [our] service area.’ As the exclusive local partner in higher education, USC Lancaster will have the opportunity to host these students for campus tours, workshops, and general sessions about higher education while they see first-hand what college life looks like right here.”

Molly Spearman, Superintendent of Education, South Carolina Department of Education: “Our goal is for every South Carolina graduate to be college and career ready. With the help of organizations like the College Advising Corps, we can help make college a reality for students who need extra support. I look forward to seeing the success of this program in Chester and Lancaster counties and expanding college access across our state.”

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